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#54521 - 11/28/05 02:48 AM Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
a_m Offline

Registered: 11/28/05
Posts: 29
Loc: Ottawa
I'm a little confused as to the use of the scalpel blades that are present in many of the PSKs(including the Doug's advertised kit). Is it intended simply as a last-ditch backup knife? Has anyone actually tried using a bare scalpel blade (sans holder/handle) for any significant tasks? I can't imagine using one without removing bits of my fingers in the process.

Also, why, are razor blades not recommended for this purpose? Obviously double edged razor blades (like this: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/webb/BOT410/BasicAnatomy/HandSec/RazBlades.jpg) would be tricky to handle, but it seems to me that a single edged razor blade (such as: http://home.earthlink.net/~yasudastudio/images/Blade3DTN.jpg) would be safer and easier.


#54522 - 11/28/05 04:01 AM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?

As Quoted on the Contents list of the ETS PSP:
Scalpel Blade - back-up to your usual pocket or sheath knife. First aid. Use wood stick(s) as handle, wedge in end or between two and secure with wire or duct tape.
In a previous job I used scalpel blades, usually just in my fingers. We got out of date unused scalpels from the local hospital. They are sharp enough to do delicate work with little pressure and still hold them in your fingers. For larger work I've put them into an art knife handle. They were a smaller size than the one in Doug's PSP.
Never needed to use one in a survival situation though. They would be easier to make a handle for than a razor bade.

#54523 - 11/28/05 04:25 AM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
Theres a bad joke about razor blades in even badder kits being used to commit suicide with when all the cheap contents fail <img src="/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> Obviously nobody is going to split firewood billets with a scalpel blade. But lets play 'what if. ' I have just crashed and all I have is the Ritter Kit my G/F gave me for Christmas (wink, wink-nudge,nudge) What will I use for fuel beyond those SPARKLITE tinders? Well lets get a small stick, split one end carefully with that blade and make an improvised handle either duct taping or lashing it secure. Now I can break off small pencil size branches, but to make a feather or fuzz stick this blade is JUST ENOUGH to get a squaw fire going to dry out and burn increasingly large bits of wood. Lets see, I didn't wear nearly enough clothing. There are upholstered seats in the wreckage. This little knife is JUST ENOUGH to carefully remove some panels to cut into mukluks and a rain cape. Hey! theres a tree over there and if I carefully inscribe the bark I can get some decent sized panels to supplement my shelter, stitch up a pot for boiling water and making up a nourishing tea. Hey! theres a river nearby and I can trim this springy branch into a pole, attach my safety pin eyes and maybe land a trout or two. I'll need to groove a slot for my gill hook so I don't lose them during landing. Finally I cleanly gut them, saving the entrails in the bark basket to bait the deadfalls and snares I also built with my knife. It's getting dark now, I've got my shelter built with fine grooves to help secure my lashings. Think I'll keep my knife close at hand in case Bart smells those trout entrails <img src="/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

#54524 - 11/28/05 05:59 AM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
Raspy Offline

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Centre Hall Pa
Single edged razor blades were the standard in kits. The shift now is to scalpels Because they are a better quality blace overall. Scalpels also come in a number of blade shapes giving you a choice of edge profile rather than the straight flat razor blade.

Also scalpels have a stub where the handle is attached in normal use. The stub is what you hold until you make a handle. Along with being better quality steel the overall blade is stronger than a razor blade.

Another choice would be exacto blades. Same thing you hace a choice of shapes. But they don't have as good as quality of blade or edge as a scalpel.

You can also choose the blade of a utility knife. But you are limited to only one style blade.

Because of the size of PSK's you are limited to a blade without a handle. Not enough room in the kit. Even with a razor blade to you need to to improvise a handle to do more than very fine cuts. But a stick and some judicious lashing can make a fairly respectable knife. At least for light weight jobs.
When in danger or in doubt
run in circles scream and shout

And always remember TANSTAAFL

#54525 - 11/28/05 02:09 PM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
I've always found xactos generally hold up better than scalpels. I like the #26 blade- three inches long, with most of that a nice, straight, razor sharp edge.

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#54526 - 11/28/05 02:18 PM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSK's?
Stu Offline
I am not a P.P.o.W.
Old Hand

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1058
Loc: Finger Lakes of NY State
It's dark, you are tried, stressed, and maybe your hands are shaking. Do you really want a scalpel blade in your hands trying to make a handle so you won't cut yourself when cutting other things?
I scraped the scalpel blade in my Ritter kit and added a well sharpened alox classic SAK and thinned scale Bark River Mikro Slither (orange scales with hollow pins for a lanyard) in a small Kydex sheath to my kit. A Vic money Clip SAK also fits in place of the classic. The above take little room and IMHO, are far safer and better than a bare scalpel blade. The knives should fit in many tinned kits or pocket kits..
Our most important survival tool is our brain, and for many, that tool is way underused! SBRaider
Head Cat Herder

#54527 - 11/28/05 02:19 PM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSK's?
Burncycle Offline

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 515
I decided to include one in case I needed to cut on myself. I've got straight edges and knives for general purpose work.

#54528 - 11/28/05 04:12 PM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2026
Loc: NE Illinois
I've always assumed the scalpel was there to cut the cord or thread as needed, cut the Tinder-Quik tabs in half, or to do some "filleting" of whatever critters you might be lucky enough to catch IF you are silly/forgetful enough not to suppliment the kit with a decent knife.

A scalpel will do little for carving wood even if you are crafty enough to fashion a handle, and generally will dull fast enough that they won't last long if you try to use them on wood.

The scalpels are tiny and an easy addition. In the event I don't have a knife, I'd rather have them with me than nothing.

<<Soapbox Mode On>>

I'll continue to stress the importance of making sure that you suppliment the little kits with some kind of sufficient shelter item(s), wether it is a poncho, plastic bags, space blanket(s), plastic tarp(s), or nylon tarp(s). In many situations the thing that is most likely to kill is exposure to the elements.

<<Soapbox Mode Off>>

Ken K.

#54529 - 11/28/05 07:02 PM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
sodak Offline

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 410
One thing I've added to the kit are the little razor blade scrapers that you can get at Home Depot. They come in a very slender plastic package and are very safe. One more option...

#54530 - 11/29/05 06:02 AM Re: Scalpel Blades in PSKs?
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
You can buy a small block of polymer clay at a craft shop for under $3 and make dozens of lightweight scalpel/Exacto blade handles. (Fimo is the first one to come to mind, but there are others.)

Just cut off a 1/4x1/4x1/2" piece, knead until soft while you're preheating your kitchen oven to 265F or whatever the clay recommends. Roll it into a snake twice as long as you need, press the end of the blade into one end, then fold the other end over the end of the blade to sandwich it between the clay, leaving it about 1/8" thick. Shape or trim to suit. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

Make sure the clay oozes through the hole in the handle end of the blade so it's secure within the clay.

Do NOT use a higher temp than the package of clay recommends!


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